what matters.

Being that Sundays are the start of my week (yay ministry!) Fridays are the start of my weekend. I like to try and do all the chores that have gone unnoticed throughout the busyness of the week on Fridays so that Saturdays can be reserved for fun things.

Being that I’ve been nursing a sick child back to health, this week’s chores have not just slipped under the radar; they’ve multiplied. Frustrated by the state of my house, I was scrubbing my kitchen counters with more vigor and anger than I usually do. Over the scratchy sounds of the scrub brush on our plastic-y countertops, I heard a tiny voice in the other room.

“Mama, puzzle.”

“Be right there, bud.”

“Mama, help.”

“In a minute, love. Just gotta finish cleaning this kitchen.”

“Mama, puzzle?”

And then I stopped and thought to myself.

In ten years, am I going to wish I spent more time keeping my house clean? Or am I going to desperately wish I just had one more afternoon with my two-year-old and a puzzle on a not-so vacuumed floor?

So I dropped the scrub brush and headed into the other room to find my boy.

“Do you wanna do this puzzle with Mama?”

“YEAH!” he shouted as he plopped his diaper-padded butt down on the floor with a squish.

Oh my heart. My heart, my heart, my heart.

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empathy.

This time last year, I was gushing with the secret that I was pregnant with my second child. Dan and I weren’t trying to get pregnant; we just did, and had it in our minds that because we got pregnant unexpectedly that this little bean growing inside me was certainly someone special.

My second pregnancy was vastly different from my first one. With Dax, I felt like Superwoman all the time (well, Superwoman who needed periodic naps throughout the day). However, the second time around, I was pretty miserable for the majority of it — constant stomach issues, nausea, hunger, and anxiety.

So when I went to the bathroom at a friend’s birthday party in late October and saw the blood indicating the beginning of “labor” (should that be in quotes? I don’t know. I certainly labored but it just feels strange to me.) part of me wasn’t all that shocked, if I’m honest. But all of me was heartbroken and sad. A few weeks afterward, when my heart was still raw, I remember praying to God and asking Him to just explain to me why.

The explanation never came, but He did give me a name — the name of the baby I’d never hold.

*****

“That’s a really interesting tattoo you have,” said my son Dax’s preschool teacher as I was bending down to pick him up today.

“Oh, thanks!”

“What made you decide to get it there?”

“Oh, yeah,” I laughed as I awkwardly flashed my armpit. (The tattoo in question is on located on the inside of my right bicep.) “This is my family tattoo — see, these two birds are for Dan and me and this bird is Dax, and this white one is for a baby we lost — so I got it on what I call my ‘mom bicep’.”

“Oh, okay,” she replied with understanding. “Did you have your miscarriage before or after Dax?”

“It was after. Like, almost exactly a year ago,” I said distracted as I reached for and just barely missed my son bolting out the door.

“Oh, yeah, I had one right before I had my son,” she offered.

After that exchange there was a blur around me involving my so-ready-to-leave toddler and all of his things, but as Dax was outside climbing into his car seat, his teacher came up behind me.

“Lindsay! I hope you aren’t upset with me about asking about your miscarriage,” she said sweetly with real concern sparkling in her eyes.

“Oh no! Not at all! If I wasn’t comfortable talking about it I wouldn’t have mentioned it in the first place.”

“Okay, just wanted to make sure,” she replied with a smile. “Have a great weekend!”

“You too!”

And just like that, we transformed from a teacher speaking with her student’s mother to two women gently sharing with each other their particular pieces of this broken life who can honestly say in that moment, “I know how you feel. It’s okay. I get it. I get you. It’s okay.”

And that is everything.

31 days of discovery – LINK UP POST.

31days

Hey! Thanks for following me along for 31 days as I discover new things in my life. This is my link up post, so as I post each day’s blog I will link it up here.

If you’re wanting to join me in writing a blog a day for the entire month of October, there is still time to link up! Click here to join in on the fun!

**********

day one: fire.

day two: empathy.

day three: what matters.

day four: precious moments.

day five: community.

day six: rescheduled.

day seven: the darnedest things.

day eight: the limit.

day nine: joy.

day ten: bad guys.

day eleven: some daxisms.

day twelve: music therapy.

day thirteen: caffeine withdrawal.

day fourteen: prayer.

day fifteen: my own strength.

day sixteen: miss (oops).

day seventeen: reality.

day eighteen: little victories.

day nineteen: love.

day twenty: silence.

day twenty-one: miss.

day twenty-two: miss.

day twenty-three: miss.

day twenty-four: miss.

day twenty-five: treats.

day twenty-six:

day twenty-seven:

day twenty-eight:

day twenty-nine:

day thirty:

day thirty-one:

fire.

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Tonight I discovered the hard way that if you stand in a swamp or marsh long after sunset, you might feel a fire ignite around your toes and spread up your legs. And when you scream and pant and try to put out that flame with your hands, they too will become engulfed. And when you finally get to a light source you will find that it isn’t actual fire, but fire ants, and they have now scorched your appendages with their fiery poison and, thus, now own you.

That said…

Happy write31days! My theme is simple: 31 days of discovery. Come along with me!

[DISCLAIMER] This post is so short because I left my computer at work and I’m blogging through the WordPress app which is trés annoying.

open letter to my firstborn son on his second birthday.

Dear Dax,

A year ago, you woke up completely unaware of what was awaiting you — a house filled with family and friends who traveled near and far just to fawn all over newly-one-year-old you.

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You managed to conquer over-stimulation, a late nap, and even melted cupcakes (baked from scratch by your culinary-inept mother) to have a pretty awesome day.

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And just like that, your second year of life started, and today, almost as quickly as it got here, it ended. It is your second birthday! You’ve been bumbling around on this planet for two whole years! It doesn’t seem very long to you, but I can barely remember life without you. Of course, purely biologically speaking, half of you actually was inside my body ever since the day I was born so really, you HAVE been here with me all this time.

Not even a month after your first birthday your dad and I had the biggest scare of our lives as your parents when you suffered a febrile seizure. Thankfully, I’m sure you don’t remember The Worst Tuesday but I’ll never forget it. The image of you seizing in my arms will never leave my memory and each and every day I am so unbelievably grateful that it was a relatively minor issue. And ever since that day, we know that if you ever have a fever we need to be diligent in treating it so we avoid a recurrence. That was the hardest lesson for me to learn this year, for sure.

seizure

A late bloomer like your mama, you didn’t walk until you were 15 months old. Part of that is my fault, I guess, for this reason: I knew that once you started walking, there was no turning back. With the knowledge of this skill, you’d go from “baby” to “toddler” and, just like that, you’d be off. And so I did my best to keep you in my arms as much as possible to delay that monumental milestone, but I could only do so for so long. Now, those fears I had have been realized. You are no longer my baby. You are my very independent toddler who prefers walking (running) to being pushed in a stroller, carried, or worn thankyouverymuch. 

walking2

walking1

And while it is a bit sad for me to say goodbye to those precious baby months, it has been so fun to see you explore this world on your own. Like in the above picture, for example: you can just barely see a bandage over your left eye, which shows how brave and adventurous you’ve become since learning how to walk. You’re still your mostly-cautious and analytical self, but sometimes you can get a bit excited and accidents happen. I deeply cherish those times you let me hold your hand as we carefully take it all on together.

flannel

lookinup

You had your second Christmas this year but since you weren’t eating solid food the year before, you finally got to participate in your family’s tradition of eating waffles on Christmas morning. You seemed to like them a little bit and I, because I’m an emotional time bomb, cried.

christmaswaffles

At your 18-month checkup, the doctors had me fill out a form answering questions about your verbal abilities, social skills, and motor skills. I was so proud when the doctor told me that you scored above average in all those areas! I mean, your father and I know how smart you are. But having a doctor affirm it resulted in some serious high fives.

You’re so smart, Dax. So stinkin’ smart.

precious

When you turned one, you could only say a few words — “dada”, “nana”, and “mama”. But now, with your first birthday far behind you, you can say so many things; from types of food, to manners (“peez” for “please” and “deeyew!” for “thank you!”), to all your letters and numbers (though, to be fair, “W” is still hard to say and you still believe that 6 is actually 9 but we’re working on it), to our friends’ names (Grandma is “G-G”, Molly is “Mayee”, Casey is “Zee”, and Savannah is “Nuh” just to name a few), to places and things, your vocabulary is growing each and every day!

dax1

You also say “no” a lot which, I’m told, is to be expected at your age. It can be cute sometimes but it also gives me heaps of opportunities to refine my patience. And let me just use this letter to tell you thanks for that. Even in frustration, my sweet boy, you are making me a better person everyday.

grumpasaur

So, I have to confess something: The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children should not watch any television before the age of two.

I’m sorry to inform you now that your father and I didn’t meet that timeline. You watch TV everyday. Sometimes pretty close to your face. Sorry.

wiiu

Your favorite shows are currently, “Curious George,” “Super WHY!”, “Dinosaur Train”, and basically anything else on PBS. While I guess we kind of failed as parents in this regard, I’ll say that it has been so fun to see you fall in love with these characters. I’m pretty sure you have a crush on Princess Pea, which is a great choice but I hate to break it to you now that royalty rarely ever marry commoners unless you’re smokin’ hot like Kate Middleton. Not that you aren’t incredibly handsome. I’m just here to help you manage expectations.

bowtie

Even though you look a lot like I did when I was your age (minus your bow ties) there is one way in which you are distinctly your father’s child: your love of sleep (or “ni-ni”, as we call it). While you’re down to only one nap a day, that one nap usually lasts about four hours and you usually (bad dreams notwithstanding) sleep through the night until about 8:00 AM. I gotta tell you — you’ve set the bar pretty high for any future siblings. I’m certain we won’t be blessed with a great sleeper like you twice in a row. Please never ever ever doubt my gratitude for this trait you’ve inherited.

sleep

Nap time 6 months and 23 months

While there seems to be a million things that have changed since the day you were born, there are still some things that are the same. Your pacifier is the biggest one. You are very attached to that thing. Even more than you used to be, I think, because now you prefer to have not one, but at least two of them with you in your crib. Sometimes three. I’ve capitalized on this by teaching you how to count them. You excitedly shout, “TWO!” when you have one for each hand and it’s obvious that you’re very proud of yourself.

You also still nurse a couple times a day. Some days I feel like you’re just about weaned, but you’ll surprise me by jumping on my lap and asking for milk. As much as I wish I was ready to be done, I’m not. So I don’t push it. Mostly because it usually results in some pretty great snuggles.

snuggle1

snuggle2

This year you have taught me more about myself than any class, life experience, or book could teach me. Not only are you in your “terrible twos” and thus teaching me the true meaning of grace and forgiveness and patience, but you’re also teaching me so much about love and trust. Without even realizing it, Dax, you are teaching me each and every day what it means to be your biggest supporter and also your gentlest corrector. You’re teaching me that mistakes don’t equal failure and that failure doesn’t equal being unloved. You’re teaching me that not only is it okay to not be perfect, but it is preferred. Messy is best because messy is real.

Today you are two and that’s truer than true. There is no one around who is two-er than you.

I love you, Bubs. Happy birthday!

Love,

Mama.

the ministry of authenticity.

I love Sundays. I work at the church in the morning and then take my sleepy, almost two-year-old son (who already thinks he’s two, thankyouverymuch) home for his nap. He still takes teenager-long naps, usually four hours, which gives me time to either keep working or tidy the house (ha) or enjoy a little quiet “me” time. And although our cool but perpetually gooey white tiled floor is begging for a sweep and a mop (after, of course, all the toys and clothes are removed) I am here, painfully aware of the time that has passed since I last blogged, feeling guilty and ashamed.

What better place to be raw and exposed than in front of my blog/the entire Internet?

Being authentic has been a sacred echo in my life lately. Because I work at a church, most of my interactions and friends have been born out of that building, and many of my friends in the church have explained to me that they struggle with being their full selves all the time. They have separated their personalities into little compartments — the “church” self against the “social” self, the “intellectual” self, the “vocational” self, etc. People feel like they can’t be the same person they are around their pastor that they are around their friends and I don’t like that.

I remember when I first moved here, I told someone what my favorite movie was, and they were shocked that I had the courage to admit that fact about myself in public because it’s “so inappropriate”. (It’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, by the way.)

A few weeks after that interaction, a dear friend of mine was upset at church. When I asked her what was wrong, she choked back her tears and said, “It doesn’t matter. I’m just going to hold it all in and pretend I’m okay like we’re supposed to do.” I basically blew up at her.

“NO!” I shouted. “You can’t do that! You have to be okay being upset right now, because when the time comes that I need to be upset, I need to know that this is a place where it is okay for me to be upset!” (For the record, we miscarried a month later and I let the whole world have it.)

It was in that moment that my eyes opened up to this idea of dividing ourselves into different people and the danger it poses to us as Christians because, by falsifying our testimonies we dilute our ministry. 

I’m not entirely sure why but I’ve never been able to be more than one person. I literally can NOT be someone I’m not, despite the pressures put on me by other Christians. Like it or not, I’m all me all the time. I’m a Christian who also has the mouth of a sailor. I’m a Christian who gets angry and frustrated. I’m a Christian who (thankfully!) has friends who aren’t Christians. I’m a Christian who, by the grace of God alone battled (and overcame!) an eating disorder. I’m a Christian who likes admittedly bad Jim Carrey movies. I’m a Christian and there are dark parts of me that are dirty and messy and need to be washed clean every freaking day. And I’m sure I’m not alone, but so many people are afraid to admit it.

Why does this happen? Why do we Christians (or people in general, honestly) feel so much pressure to be perfect all the time? Why does the world end if we are seen with a beer, or seen walking out of a counselor’s office, or seen angry at the world for a minute because — gasp! — life sucks sometimes?

In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Maybe I’m reading the wrong translation, but that doesn’t look like Jesus said, “You know what? Make sure you’re burden-free before you come to me. Make sure you’re smiling 24/7. Only come to me when you are in the best mood ever with no desperation or fault. Check your baggage at the door before you come chill with me.” So where do we get this crap from?

How can we fully expect to lead other people to Christ when we put on this unrelatable show of perfection? How can we expect anyone to buy into our faith when they can’t even buy into our own bullshit?

Let me be real. In about two weeks, we’ll celebrate our one-year anniversary of leaving the brown baby hills and crunchy sorta-dead grass of Tallahassee to live/do ministry/perpetually sweat in the ever-paradisical Naples. Moving here completely wrecked me. Much like ripping the bandage off of an infected wound, the pain was big and fierce. I feel like if I had felt comfortable enough to be authentic about my pain, I might have healed more quickly. But that took a long while.

But the good news is that healing has definitely happened. Scars remain, but the blood flow has ceased as I’ve done my best to bring people into my realm of authenticity. And I am grateful for the little changes I’m seeing: the tears shed on my own shoulder, the angry text messages, and the willingness to accept grace and love amidst it all. And just like that, both feet are inside the door. I am here, planted, ready to continue this life in this place with these people. My shoes no longer straddle the metaphorical threshold, the outside foot ready to bolt and drag the rest of me with it at the first chance. We are here. We are living. We are doing authentic life together and each day it becomes more beautiful.

That’s what Jesus came for, guys. In Luke 5:31-32 he says, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Amen.

some stuff i wrote.

Last weekend, a good friend of mine let me know that there was a free writing workshop being offered by an author who was in town to speak at a church. As you can tell from my dusty blog (hello cobwebs) my spirit hasn’t exactly been… um… pleasant enough for blogging…

Oh well — if you can’t be honest on the Internet, where can you? 

I’ve been in a major life funk lately.

There I said it.

And I hate blogging when I’m in a funk because it makes me re-feel all my funky feelings and, because I write on the Internet, it subjects all of you lovely people to my funk, too.

It must have been providential, then, that this workshop was titled, Open-heart Writing; like open-heart surgery, it is painful but life-saving.

The author gave us three prompts (one at a time) and gave us ten minutes to jot something down (on PAPER! with PENS!) And, despite the time crunch and my inability to edit, I kinda liked the things I wrote. So I’m gonna share them with you, the Internet, in lieu of a funky-feely blog post.

Cool? Cool.

PROMPT 1: Describe the room.

The room is golden, both in color and in ambiance. It doesn’t sparkle though, fighting a looming tarnish. The windows pour in a summery stream of mid-February, south Florida morning, as I sit between a Diane and a woman whose name will always be to me, Also Talks WIth Her Hands.

Laura sits at the head of our mango-colored table, adorned with silver rings on her fingers and around her neck, and her crooked smile and quiet voice reminds me of Erica.

PROMPT 2: The most important room in my life. 

Converted

Walking along the maroon, cracked tiles, the soles of my shoes always stuck a little bit, presumably because there was residual barbecue sauce forever festering in the pores of the tiles. The smell has gone, but the look of the interior of Mickey Andrews’ Barbecue Joint (was that its name?) would always linger in the church corporate gathering area.

It was in this dark, awkwardly arranged ex-restaurant where I was reintroduced to a guy named Jesus Christ who, contrary to everything I’d ever been taught as a small, loud-mouthed girl, loved me so very much just the way I am.

Being a converted barbecue restaurant, the dining tables exchanged for handmade wooden cafe tables and broken stadium seats, it doesn’t really look like a church. Maybe that’s why I loved it so much.

There were no stained glass windows, only dingy double panes dressed in cheap, plastic blinds. There weren’t any bad, last supper themed murals. Instead there was a thick coat of dark red matte and framed artwork by members of the community. Instead of a chancel with an organ and handbells, there was a rickety, slapped-together collapsible stage precariously cradling a drum set and a few acoustic and electric guitars, as well as a homemade stool for the pastor to teach from.

PROMPT 3: Tell the story in this photo. 

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The hot, sticky air disguised itself as that of mid to late May, but the calendar, turned to the twelfth month, called its bluff. Comforted by the shelter of a banyan canopy, sweating in long sleeves, you and I struggled to keep up with a smaller, more wild version of ourselves, who had just learned how to walk.

Stifled by both the south Florida winter’s heat and the reality that a toddler and a clock ticking seconds closer to nap time were a volatile combination, our appearance was remarkably pleasant. The perfect little trio, an enviable Christmas card, telling terrible lies to all its recipients.

“Things are beautiful and perfect here! We love our life! Cheese!” was what we said on the sandy path, our unruly boy trapped in the binding and protective embrace of a tired and frustrated father. Deep in our eyes, though, the truth was louder.

Sadness, loneliness, and betrayal leaked out of us onto the card as the cruel sun climbed higher behind the defenseless branches. But we are here, alive and robust in perspiration, together in a beautiful and clumsy dance of survival.

Like the Spanish moss to the stretching limbs, we are committed to growing and stretching upward, downward, and in spirals.

The end.

when we make ourselves bleed.

It is Sunday and I don’t normally blog on Sundays but I foolishly downed a grande Starbucks iced latte this morning so I’ll be awake and vibrating until Tuesday so MIGHT AS WELL EXPEL SOME FINGER ENERGY, AM I RIGHT? (The piano is getting slaughtered as soon as I’m done with this.)

Failure and grace are on my heart today, because:

  • I just got done writing an apology letter to a mother in our congregation for our streaming platform being down this morning during her son’s baptism.
  • Dan had to apologize for not being the husband/father I needed him to be on Friday.
  • And a few days prior to that, I had to send an awkwardly phrased apology email to a mentor whose blessings on me I have not exactly honored.

There have been a lot of “I’m sorry”s floating around my head this week, thrown both at and from me. A lot of disappointments. A lot of failures.

It’s easy for me to forgive Dan because he’s so silly and wonderful. But my mentor forgave me (for probably the millionth time) and I’m crossing my fingers that this mother will also forgive me. However, even though the reality of their forgiveness is within my reach, I still find it hard to forgive myself.

Last night I went to dinner with some ladies from our church. My friend Kimberly told us a story of her son’s experience at a local water park. There is an area that has big, floating lily pads with a rope suspended above them. The idea is that you can jump from lily pad to lily pad and use the rope to help you across.

Kimberly’s son decided to make his way across by only hanging on to the rope and not touching down on any of the lily pads. When he got to the other side, his hands were blistered and bleeding.

“Why didn’t you stop when you were hurting?” she asked.

“Because I didn’t want to fail,” he said.

WHAT.

Whenever someone forgives me for wronging them, it’s like I look down on their grace like her son did those lily pads. I dismiss it and choose instead to cling to my shame as punishment — a thick, tough, splintery rope — and mentally beat myself up. In a sense, I make myself bleed because I’m so upset that I failed in the first place.

Is it failure, though? Is it?

To admit you need help? To admit you made a mistake? To step down on a lily pad? To apologize to someone and say, “I missed the mark and I’ll try to do better next time,” and to let their grace be enough? 

Perhaps when we find ourselves in pain we should stop, step down on a lily pad, and apologize instead of making ourselves bleed unnecessarily.

And then, we move on, more aware of the reality of love and grace and mercy and redemption than we are of the lies of shame and guilt.

the economic cost of obesity. [video]

This Friday marks one year since I became a mom.

That’s right — my baby boy is turning one.

But something else turns one on Friday — my freakish paranoia about the food industry.

Something about becoming a mom made me extremely fearful of the food that’s available out there; as it stands right now, if I can’t pinpoint exactly where it came from and how it came to be, I don’t want to feed it to my kid.

Because of this, I’m choosing Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and the Green Wise organic section of Publix instead of my used-to-be go-to WalMart. And it’s getting expensive.

Like, really expensive. (Here’s a figure for you — I spent $42 at Publix today on TWO dinners for my family. TWO. Either I’m doing something wrong or healthy, organic, clean food is just that much more pricey.)

A couple weeks ago, Dan and I were out running errands. While out, I remembered that I was out of sandwich-makings, so I asked if we could stop by the nearest grocery store so I could grab some spinach, tomatoes, meat, and hummus.

The neighborhood we were in was a poorer one, but there was a WalMart nearby. So we stopped and went in.

I was so saddened by what I saw.

There was nothing — I repeat — nothing in the grocery section of this lower-income store that wasn’t processed. Nothing. Not a single piece of fruit. Not one vegetable. Nothing. Only boxes and boxes of fatty, sodium-rich, nutrient-free garbage.

And we wonder why America looks the way it does.

This video by Academic Earth illustrates just how much money we, as a country, are putting toward healthy food versus junk food. It was eye-opening but after this trip to WalMart, it also makes a whole lot of sense.

Take a look at the video here.

are you there, blog? it’s me, lindsay.

HELLO. Hi. How are you?

*crickets*

Yes. Yes. Yes. Okay. I realize I haven’t posted in, like, FOREVS. Please stand down, angry citizens. I come in peace.

If you MUST know, I’m currently in the process of revamping this whole blog thing. Turns out I have a little bit of a hefty following and I’m ashamed of the content I was feeding you. You deserve better than that. Yes, YOU. I mean look at that outfit you’ve got on. You’re a stunner. You deserve stunning blogs to go with that getup.

So, please, bear with me as I navigate this blog like a total n00b. Mo’ betta posts are in the works. They are coming soon. SWEARSIES.

In the mean time, check out these beauties. They’re my most popular posts. If my posts were my children, I imagine these posts would form the cool clique at school. But they wouldn’t bully the other posts, okay? I raised them better than that.

Y’ALL DA BEST. Stay tuned!